The Knights Templar
History - Grand Masters - Symbols
Introduced in 1147, the "cross gules" or red cross quickly became the Temple's
exclusive sign, so much so that chroniclers still refer to it as the "cross of the Temple" or the
"Templar cross", without always specifying its color, which suggests that everyone knew
its shapes and colors. All the crosses used by the Order of the Temple are shown below:
This "Seal of the Army of Christ" (Sigillum Militum Xpisti) is one of the most famous seals of the Order of the Temple and belonged to the 19th Grand Master, Renaud de Vichiers: it represents two knights on one horse, with a spear pointing forwards and the horse galloping from dexter (right) to sinister (left). The knights are messengers of the Temple, heralding the Light from the East.
This seal may symbolize the Order's initial poverty, paying homage
to its first two members, Hugh de Payens and Geoffrey de St Omer,
when the Temple's army was still called the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ.
On a deeper level, it also symbolizes the order's dual nature (exoteric and esoteric,
warrior and monastic), as well as man's dual nature (divine and human), and finally it
also represents the being's division into the spiritus (spirit), animus (soul) and
THE SECRET TEMPLAR ALPHABET
The first mission assigned to the Knights Templar was to guarantee the safety of all pilgrims in the Holy Land. They soon strayed from this duty and amassed such wealth that they became the treasurers of the king and the pope. As a security measure, they encrypted letters of credit that they had issued between their 9 000 commanderies. Their substitution alphabet was deduced from the so-called "cross of the eight beatitudes", which stood as the order's emblem:
They replaced each letter with a symbol, according to the following system of substitution:
THE NUMBERS 3, 8 AND 9
In traditional societies, numerals and numbers were not only used for expressing quantities,
but also for establishing links or symbolic media, because they express ideas and forces,
and constitute "living beings" gifted with strength or vital flows that move an
invisible yet real "current" when pronounced, which will influence the ambient reality
to which the numeral or number refers. The cosmos is a set of numbers, which explains the
importance of their interpretation, representing one of the oldest
The number 3 (omnipresent)
The number 3 is universally essential. It is the first indivisible number and expresses the spiritual and intellectual in God, the universe and man. That was already the meaning given to it by the Celts. It is the synthesis of the being's trinity, where it is the union of 1 (male principle) and 2 (female principle), i.e. the union of Heaven and Earth. Consequently, 3 is the most complete expression of the divine, the cosmic harmony and the full accomplishment of the revelation. It is also the number for all sorts of triads (spirit/soul/body, life/death/resurrection, heaven/earth/hell, and so on) and pagan (especially Indo-European) and Christian divine Trinities.
The number 9
The number 9, the last of the single numbers, has a strong ritual value. It announces both the end and the beginning, therefore a transposition to a new plane, leading to a rebirth. The number 9 measures the gestation period and symbolizes the reward for hard work and the accomplishment of the creation. The number of the novena (nine days of prayer), the source of grace, 9 (Aeneas) is the number of steps (Jacob's and Joseph of Arimathea's ladders feature 9 rungs) to be cleared by he who is looking for God, in the image of the 9th tarot card, the Hermit or the Pilgrim. Finally, 9 is the number of he who fulfils the Divine Will.
The number 8
But the number 8 is especially prevalent in the Temple's architecture, in the form of octagonal churches and chapels, although the Knights Templar did not do so every time.
The number 8 also refers to the cosmic balance, because it is the number produced when adding the four cardinal points and the four intermediate directions.
The number 8 signifies the sentence for the impious and the reward for the righteous, and symbolizes accomplishment and the Advent, hence its Marian nature.
Above all, the number 8, following the 7 days of Creation, represents the "path" to another life, a rebirth and a resurrection. That is why baptismal fonts and the first baptisteries used to be octagonal (churches in Poitiers, Fréjus, Aix-en-Provence, Ravenna, etc.).
Through the Christly octagon, we pass from the profane, terrestrial world (represented by the square) to the sacred, celestial world (represented by the circle or dome). This was the role played by Templar churches and chapels.
Also note that the number 8 symbolizes the judgment of the Lamb, as indicated in the Book of Revelation, of the righteous and Christ considered, just like Melchizedek, like the figure of the "King of Justice" or the "King of the World".
Abraxas, a magic and sacred formula, was used by Greek Gnostics to designate the name of the god of the year. The word originates from the first seven letters of God's name in Hebrew and refers to the seven planets, the seven archangels, the seven deadly sins, the seven days, and so on. When factorized according to the Greek number system and added together, the seven letters of the word give the number of the annual cycle - i.e. 365. It therefore stands as the symbol of all of Creation, the cosmos and Knowledge (gnosis). According to St Jerome, Abraxas corresponded to the mystical and hidden number of Mithras, the sum of whose letters in Greek (MEIOPAE) also produces 365.
Abraxas stones come in the form of intaglios (semiprecious stones with an incised engraving) or gems mounted on a ring worn by Gnostic Christians and later by Templar Grand Masters, who often used it as a counter-seal or in seals. These gems date back to the 2nd century AD, to the time of the famous Gnostic philosopher Basilides of Alexandria, whose doctrine attempted to synthesize the Christian, Egyptian, Mithraic, Greek and Celtic movements; some of the information from this doctrine can be found in the Temple's doctrine. The Order of the Temple used Abraxas stones at the time of Hugh de Payens, who inherited it from the family of the Counts of Champagne and who revived its usage. Abraxas stones were not used exclusively by the Knights Templar. They were consistently used throughout the Middle Ages and spread within guilds, particularly master builders and stone-cutters, and within middle classes and the nobility.
The central figure is a composite being with a man's chest and upper limbs, wearing a classical-style breastplate, but the arms unprotected. He has the head of a rooster turned to the right or left, with the beak facing forward or lifted heavenwards. His lower limbs consist of two snakes bent towards the top. The monster is holding two objects: a shield in the right hand and a whip or flagellum in the left hand, sometimes replaced with a staff. This strange creature combines several symbols of a "mythical-divine" nature, whose initiation value was not lost on the Knights Templar.
First of all, the two complementary symbols - the rooster (in this case, replacing the eagle) and the snake. The rooster, symbolizing wisdom and vigilance, crowed to drive away the darkness and allow the sun to rise and shine. It embodies the Initiate who is reborn after the initiatory death of the night in the light of a new life cleansed of all stains. The snake, personifying the telluric and chthonian forces, symbolizes the telluric energy required for the process for rebirth, for a new life sublimated by the Knowledge procured by the Good, with the snakes' heads looking heavenwards, the universe of the perfect Spirit. By periodically sloughing its skin, the snake is the sign of the perpetual, original movement and the eternal succession of the cycles. The classical-style breastplate signifies the need to fight to acquire Knowledge and Wisdom, which are never given but conquered. The shield, which often bears the Greek letters I A W (iota, alpha, omega) symbolizes the protection of the Initiate in his quest for Knowledge and Wisdom, and the whip or staff represents power.
The Abraxas used by the Temple (generally almost exclusively by the Grand Master and the high dignitaries) is often accompanied by three Greek letters, which are then placed not on the shield but on the edge of the seal, and seven stars bearing the seven letters of the name Abraxas. The inscription is always the same: SECRETVM TEMPLI, which speaks for itself.
History - Grand Masters - Symbols